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Full text of "My country and my people"

THE    CHINESE    CHARACTER               69
proud of their knowledge of human nature, and proud of their
having solved the problems of life in all its ethical and political
relationships.
In a way, he was justified. For Confucianism not only asked about the meaning of life but also answered it in a way that left people satisfied with having found the meaning of human existence. The answer was solid, clear and sensible, so that it left people with no desire to speculate about the future life or to change the present one. Man naturally becomes conservative when he realizes he has got something that works and therefore something that is true. The Gonfucianist saw no other way of life, thought no other way possible. The fact that Westerners, too, have a well-organized social life and that a London policeman would help an old woman across the street without any knowledge of the Confucian doctrine of respect for old age comes to the Chinese always more or less as a shock.
When the realization came that Westerners possess all the Confucian virtues of courtesy, orderliness, honour^ kindliness, courage, and honesty of government, and that Confucius would have personally approved of the London policeman and tube conductor, that racial pride was badly shaken. There were things that displeased the Chinese and struck him as raw, uncouth and barbarian, like husband and wife walking hand in hand together, father and daughter kissing each other, kissing on the screen, kissing on the stage, kissing on the railway platform, and kissing everywhere. These things confirmed him in the belief that the Chinese civilization was really superior. But there were other things, like the common people being able to read, women being able to write letters, general cleanliness (which he imagined was a heritage from the Middle Ages instead of a nineteenth-century invention), students3 respect for teachers, and English boys always saying "Yes, sir,'* to their superiors and the like which were Immeasurably impressive. These, together with good roads, the railway, the steamship, good leather boots, Parisian perfume, the wonderfully sweet white children, the X-ray pictures, the camera, the phonograph, the telephone, and many similar things, have completely shattered the native pride.